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Review: Pompeii tries to be something its not

A general theme of many movies is that there’s always an underdog to root for. This aspect spans all genres, sometimes to unfathomable levels. But that’s what makes it fun.

“Pompeii” is no exception. But there is a twist to the typical underdog-wins-all scenario — the audience knows the actors’ ultimate fate. It’s a twisted form of dramatic irony, making it hard, although not impossible, to hope for the incredible.

“Pompeii,” directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, starts amid the Rebellion of the Celtic Horse Tribe, where Milo (Kit Harington) watches his parents and his people slain by the Romans. Found and forced into slavery, 17 years later he becomes known as “The Celt,” pure muscle and a lone wolf. Brought to Pompeii to fight Atticus — a gladiator who is one fight from freedom — Milo impresses all he meets, including Cassia (Emily Browning), daughter of a Pompeii businessman. With just a few stolen glances the two quickly fall in love.Destruction - Cassia (Emily Browning) and Milo (Kit Harington) find a calm amidst the storm before Mount Vesuvius destroys Pompeii. ‘Pompeii' opened Feb. 21.

Amidst political upheaval and a gladiator battle, Mount Vesuvius begins to rumble, foreshadowing the imminent fate of Pompeii.

This is how the plot continues, the mountain becoming hard to ignore as a threat, and Milo finds himself fighting to save Cassia and his new best-friend Atticus (despite a few scenes of morbid talk about how they were going to kill one another in the upcoming battle).

Finally, at the most inopportune/opportune moment, the arena collapses and Mount Vesuvius unleashes its fury. The rest is a fast-paced fight to survive, ending in the ultimate demise of everyone. For some characters, death by molten lava is something to cheer for, such as for Kiefer Sutherland’s character, Senator Corvus.

As violent as the death may be, Anderson attempts to make it end on a romantic note. As nice as the gesture is, it detracts from the awesome power of Vesuvius and puts a light twist on what had been a brutal movie. It leaves viewers on a happy note, sure, but makes for an unsettling conclusion.




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